The word “Gospel” is all over this blog, used in the title of countless books, used in an endless amount of sermons every Sunday morning, and generally not understood. I hear pastors over and over say that the key to changing is found in the power of the Gospel. And I agree that power of Gospel truth deep into the heart of an individual can and will change their lives, but all this is pointless if we don’t know what the Gospel is.
I find that within most of America the Gospel is summarized as “Jesus loves me.” And it always brings me to this question:
Does this “Jesus loves me” type of idea fully encapsulate the Gospel? I don’t think so.
The Gospel truth of God’s love for you does help build a connection between you and God, but God’s love for you is not the end of the Gospel. It must move beyond just you.
My issue with this idea of the Gospel being only Jesus loves you is that you can start believing God cares about you only, and so you stick with this internally focused mindset throughout life. You do what makes you happy, because Jesus loves you. You do what brings out your best, because Jesus cares about you.
The reason this type of Gospel falls short is because Jesus’ teaching reached beyond this mindset, exhorting that you should not only love God but also to love others (Matthew 22:39). Jesus brought with Him a new thing. Now you come to God through Jesus as the mediator and advocate. Jesus taught that this new thing meant you must also live in new ways (Luke 5:36-39). The old has gone, this new you has come. Now you are commanded to love God and love others. Not love God and love yourself only.
The Gospel pulls you away from a world singularly focused on you, and pushes you into a world where you love others.
The reason you stop short of a life focused on caring for others is because you think the Gospel is all about you, not about them. Jesus love you. And you stop there.
But the truth is that it is God who saves us to a new way of living where you surrender your life so that He can use you to bless others. This is the calling you have been given. To exchange life with others in a way that values them before you.
This is why I think the Gospel calls you into mentoring relationships where you speak into others, and open yourself up to allow the breath of new life to be poured in.
Yes the Gospel is about mentoring. It’s about life exchange. Jesus loves you is the foundation on which God builds to not only change your heart, but also to change your life.